This Fathers Day, remember that men today long to have good relationships with their children. But there have been generations of silence about what it means to be a father. We didn’t hear our own dads talk about it.
At my fathering workshops the most moving moment is when I ask, ‘How many of you feel like you’ve been changed as a man by having this daughter? Stand up if you can tell me one or two or three things that are different for you.’
Everyone in the room stands.
Then I ask, ‘Stand up if your father ever spoke to you about how he was changed as a man by you being his child.’ Sometimes no one stands, and rarely more than 3 men stand. That’s a very emotional moment.
So many of us dads never heard anything on the subject from our own fathers. That’s really sad. However, it’s also an opportunity to break that cycle of silence, and talk to other fathers (including our own) about it.
In the years before and since I wrote Dads & Daughters®: How to Inspire, Understand and Support Your Daughter, I've talked and/or corresponded in-depth with thousands of fathers.
Women are always startled to learn that about half of these men (most of whom I never met before) report that I am the first person they’d ever talked to in depth about fatherhood. Men aren’t surprised, because we’re so accustomed to father silence.
The good news? With only a handful of exceptions, the fathers I communicate with are articulate and passionate; we have a lot to say about the experience and importance of being a dad.
And while much of that may have gone unspoken until the moment of our conversations, those men and I quickly learned there’s real power in asking: "How are you changed as a person because you are a Dad?".